|Pediatric Occupational Therapist, helping children reach their full potential|
Duncan Chengo is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist who works at the Nairobi Hospital in Kenya. He has a Bachelor of Science Degree (Medicine) in Occupational Therapy, a Masters Degree in Pediatric Neuro-Sensory Integration and has been practicing for seven years.
Pediatric Occupational Therapy is a bunch of rehabilitative medicine that deals with children with neuro-developmental challenges like deformities and malformations. This kind of therapy helps control disability by enabling children to partake in basic daily activities like playing, learning and growth. Dr. Chengo, specifically deals with children with sensory integration difficulties. Other branches of rehabilitative medicine include Physiotherapy and Speech Therapy.
You need to get great grades in science subjects like biology and chemistry, mathematics and the languages. Social Science is an added advantage.
A degree in Medicine (Rehabilitative) is a necessity.
Creativity is essential to be able to you build a rapport with children as well as create plans or gadgets that suit their needs. You also need to be open, patient and have some interest and understanding of children. “Children like attention and interesting things; funny, good and bright. You might not enjoy pediatrics if you cannot offer this,” Dr. Chengo explains.
OTHER INSPIRING PEDIATRIC OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS
Duncan Chengo was born in Malindi, Coastal Kenya in 1982. His mother was a housewife and his father a businessman. He is the last born in a large family of twelve. They moved to Nairobi when he was four years old. He went to school at Moi Forces Academy (Nairobi), then later joined Machakos Primary School when they relocated to Machakos. He proceeded to Machakos Boys High School where he did his O-levels. In school, his favourite subjects were biology and chemistry.
He had to study Law for two months because his mother did not understand his desire to get into therapy, believing he could do much better as a lawyer. Chengo however stood his ground and with his brother's support, he joined Presibeterian University where he did his BSc. in Rehabilitative Medicine (for four years). He then worked for two years at Mpeketoni District Hospital in Lamu, Kenya, before travelling to the United Kingdom (Derby University) for his Masters Degree in Pediatric Neuro-Sensory Integration.
Chengo was born with a mild cerebral palsy condition. He was treated by Linda Brant, a Pediatric Occupational Therapist and missionary in Malindi. Linda influenced Chengo’s decision to get into occupational therapy as well as his family’s conversion from Islam to Christianity.
“I always knew that I wanted to help other children the way Linda helped me. In school, I was really affected when I saw how other children were stigmatized owing to their disability. There were very few (if any) special schools,” Chengo explains.
HIS WORK TODAY
Chengo gets to work at 6.30 a.m. He handles bookings and even customizes splints and other gadgets. He does not leave the office until after 5 p.m. sometimes much later. He handles children between ages 0 to 14 years.
He loves dealing with children and giving them a taste of what life can be without disability.
“It gives me joy when I meet a child who would otherwise be in a wheelchair walking or running,” he says with a broad smile.
He works with a number of organizations that look out for children around the world (on a voluntary basis). Owing to this, he has been to Germany, Canada, Nigerian, United Kingdom, United States of America, Democratic Republic Of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi.
Career lessons: Love what you do and do it with passion. Desire to achieve more every other time.
Role Model: Nelson Mandela
Other interests: Soccer, tennis, musical instruments and singing.
Look forward to: A world without disability, improving children’s quality of life.
Favourite cartoons: McQueen, CBeebies Channel-especially Mr. Maker.
Mentors: My former lecturer at Derby Univerisity (a fellow Kenyan).
Awards/Recognitions: Most Creative Student (Derby University 2009). Best Student-Anatomy (Derby University 2010).
Tips for future Pediatric Occupational Therapists: Let your greatest desire be to ensure a life reaches its maximum potential despite any kind of disability. You can also be a doctor in a wheel-chair, do not let disability stop you.
Advise to BINGWA readers: It is good to discover what you want early in life and go for it.
Fact: The past thirty years have seen an alarming rise in the rates of children with disabilities.
-First published in BINGWA Magazine Issue 11 2013